The Signs Your Dog is Unhappy. Learn to Read Their Body Language

In this article I am going to talk about the signs that your dog is unhappy. You must learn to read their body language to understand them.

Before you bring a puppy home, you should be aware that you are adding up another responsibility. You must know that your dog is healthy and happy.

Well, you should, therefore, understand the signs of a happy dog.

Now, owning a dog brings about happiness. This is only if your dog is happy.

Before I start talking about the signs of an unhappy dog, I will briefly explain some of the situations that could make him sad.


Why Does My Dog Appear Unhappy?

As with humans, dogs can also be unhappy. The only difference is that we can be able to express ourselves. When it comes to dogs, you will have to monitor their behavior.

Observing change in dog behavior is vital to determining his wellbeing.

Below are some of the common reasons that could make a dog sad;

  • Being left alone for long hours.
  • Major changes in his lifestyle
  • Being abandoned or taken back to the shelter
  • Neglect can lead to stress


Being Left Alone For Long Hours

If you have owned a dog before, you must know that they are social creatures. Dogs do not do well in isolation. However, dog owners have to attend to their everyday activities.

If a dog is used to spending the entire day with you, then leaving him alone can be quite stressful.

Most dogs end up developing separation anxiety. As a result, they become very unhappy dogs, and sometimes separation anxiety calls for medical attention.


Major Changes In Your Dog’s Lifestyle

Dogs do not adapt to changes fast. Therefore, a change in his lifestyle might make him unhappy.

For instance, if a dog goes to a new home, it could take several days or weeks to settle down. During this period, you might notice that he seems off and maybe a little sad.

Well, other changes that might stress your dog is moving to a new home. Also, if his owner or a member of the family is absent, it is likely to stress your dog.


Being Abandoned Or Taken Back To The Shelter

While it can be exciting to get a new dog, most people fail to consider a few factors. A good example of such a scenario is a person getting an adult dog who is yet to be potty trained.

It does not always work out well for both the dog and the new owner.

Most dog owners facing such problems give up on their dogs. As a result, they either abandon or take the dog back to the shelter.

This will not only make your dog unhappy but it can also lead to long term depression.

It is therefore important to inquire about a dog’s history before you bring one home.



We always talk about how amazing owning a dog is. However, we often forget to mention the responsibilities that come with having one.

It is similar to adding another member of the family, and in this case, he is a little bit special.

A dog will need to feed, play, exercise, and have a clean place to live. If this sounds like a lot for you, then getting a dog would be the worst idea.

If a dog is neglected, which means he is probably not being fed or is being canned, he is going to be an unhappy dog. A neglected dog will do anything to try and escape home.

Ensure you have the time and you want to do these things with your dog.


How Do I Know That My Dog Is Unhappy?

For the above-outlined reasons, you must be concerned about your dog’s happiness. Despite doing everything you are required to, your dog can still be unhappy.

Thus, you need to master the signs to look out for when you suspect that your dog is ill.

Below, I have prepared 11 signs that your dog is unhappy in regards to their body language and behavior change.


Sudden Aggression Issues

In most cases, you are going to adopt a happy and playful puppy.

And even when you have an aggressive dog at hand, you can work hand in hand with a professional to curb aggressive behavior.

However, if your friendly and very docile dog suddenly starts actively aggressively, something is wrong.

Well, I cannot deny it that puppies tend to get nippy.

However, we often deal with nipping and biting at an early age. An adult dog who has learned biting inhibition will rarely act aggressively.

If your dog has started reacting aggressively towards things he once enjoyed, then he could be unhappy. However, this cannot be the only sign that your dog is unhappy.

Observe his overall body language and change in behavior.

On the other hand, nipping or biting can indicate that your dog is in physical pain. If this behavior goes on, you might consider talking to your vet.

They will examine and monitor your dog to rule out medical illnesses causing aggressive behavior.


Change In His Eating Behavior

Dogs love to eat. If you are not careful, you might overfeed your dog since he won’t refuse to eat even when he has had enough.

Well, by now, I am assuming that you have already mastered your dog’s eating habits.

If your dog has suddenly started eating more food than usual, you should probably keep a close watch on him.

Also, some dogs will refuse to eat when they are unhappy.

The problem with this is that you cannot tell whether your dog is sick or stressed. A decreased or increased appetite also appears several times under the signs of a sick dog.

Therefore, to tell whether your dog is sick, you might need a vet to examine your canine friend. If your dog is exhibiting a change in its eating habits, then you should be concerned. Monitor him closely to note any other changes other than the feeding behavior.

Note that some dogs will refuse to eat when they are bored with their food. Well, maybe you have been feeding him the same food for years and it is time to change.

However, consult your vet before making any drastic changes in his diet.

If you just got a new dog, it could take some time before he settles down. Be patient and try to make him as comfortable as you can.

If your dog will not eat at all after a few days, you might need to consult your vet.


Hiding From You And Other Members Of The Family

Dogs are social creatures. It is unlikely for a dog to want to spend the day all alone. However, when your dog is unhappy, he will rarely associate with you, or anyone.

I have experienced this with our dog when we added another dog in the family.

He would hide away in the closet for the entire day. Well, if you are experiencing this, it could be that your dog is feeling a little unhappy.

You should take some time to socialize with him. Alternatively, identify the reason why he does not want to come out.

Other dogs will hide when you have guests. He is probably too nervous and needs proper socialization. In some cases, a dog hiding may also indicate that he is in pain or sick.

Monitor him closely to identify signs of pain or discomfort.

Also, make sure that nothing is intimidating him around the house. Ensure you introduce a new pet to your dog before you allow them to associate.


Your Dog Refuses To Play

Dogs are always looking forward to the scheduled playtime. In fact, a dog might start playing with you a few minutes after you meet him!

Therefore, if your dog has no interest in playing with you, then something must be wrong. It could mean that he is ill, or it could mean that your dog is unhappy.

Now, if your dog has suddenly stopped playing with you, you should be alarmed. Some dogs will refuse to go for the daily walks or associate with you in any way.

Now, you need to understand why your dog has stopped wanting to play with you. Have you made any changes in his lifestyle lately?

Maybe you have moved to a new place or you have a new person in the house. It could make him too nervous to come out to play with you.

However, if this behavior goes on, you might need to visit your vet. You should rule out any medical reasons why your dog refuses to play with you.

If your dog is healthy, then it could be that your dog is stressed out. Monitor him and understand the cause of anxiety or stress.


Changes In The Sleep Cycle

Dogs sleep a lot when they are not active. It is probably how they pass time when we are away from home. Well, the first few weeks might be a struggle for a new dog to sleep.

It is because of the new environment and sudden changes in his life.

However, within a few weeks, you should already be aware of your dog’s sleep cycle. In fact, some dogs will adapt to your sleep cycle. He will notice sleep time and wake-up time.

Well, should you notice major changes in your dog’s sleeping habits, you might want to monitor him closely.

For instance, if your dog is up at night, it could be because he is disturbed. As with most other signs of an unhappy dog, a disturbed sleep cycle could indicate that your dog is ill.

For this reason, I suggest you check with your vet. He will examine your dog and recommend treatment if your dog is ill.

If not, you might consider looking into behavior modification.


Pacing And Trying To Escape

Attempting to escape home is a common behavior problem in new dogs. Well, it is only fair to understand that your dog is trying to fit it.

Therefore, you should make it as comfortable and cozy as possible.

Well, the first few days are going to be disturbing. I mean, he is in a completely strange environment and with strange faces.

However, with time your dog should learn to adapt to being in your home. During this time, spend as much time as you can to help him settle in.

If your dog is unhappy, he might start pacing the house. You will find him pacing around the same place. Other dogs will walk from one point to another and back aimlessly.

It does not matter whether you are dealing with a new dog or not, the pacing is a major indicator that your dog is unhappy.

Dog Training Solution

Watch out for a dog who is trying to escape. A stressed dog might chew doors, or dig when trying to escape.

Thus, if you suspect that your dog is unhappy, you should probably check into that, Neglecting your dog could make him want to escape from your home.

For instance, if you fail to feed your dog over a long period, he could try to escape to go look for food.

The key to keeping a happy dog is to provide comfortable living conditions. Pacing and attempting to escape your home is a sign of anxiety or stress.


Yawning And Chuffing

Yawning is often a sign that one is tired and sometimes sleepy. It is no different in dogs. Your dog will yawn a few times before he falls asleep.

Chuffing, on the other hand, is obviously a sign of distress. It sounds as if your dog is exhaling and barking at the same time.

Well, if your dog is yawning constantly, he could be bored or stressed. It could also mean that he is sad and thus you need to check into that.

Ensure that your dog gets food on time, plays, and gets to exercise every day.

Also, your dog might start licking his lips and paws. Now, this is a sign of extreme anxiety and stress issues.

Talk to your vet and eliminate anxiety-inducing elements in your house. Also, spend as much time as you can with your vet.


Eating Non-Food Items

Dogs are chewy and love to explore. It is no secret that a dog can chew just about anything he can find in the house.

It ranges from shoes, small items in the house, and even your kid’s homework!

Well, as much as it is annoying and destructive, it could mean that your dog has some underlying health issues.

However, if you are raising a puppy, chewing behavior could be a result of teething. If so, you should buy him chew toys.

They will help alleviate boredom and keep your dog from chewing other items.

At the same time, an unhappy dog is likely to become destructive. Some dogs will chew doors, others will dig into the sofa and destroy other items.

Before you can address this problem, you should find out why your dog is behaving in such a manner.

Destructive behavior is often your dog’s way of distracting himself from the actual problem.

Boredom and anxiety are common perpetrators of destructive or chewy behavior.


House Soiling

Almost every dog owner’s dream is to have a well-behaved dog. Well, this might be the case for you until suddenly you can smell your dog’s pee all over the house.

Despite being house trained, an unhappy dog can easily soil the house.

It is usually as a result of fear and anxiety. For instance, some dogs will leave traces of urine as they walk while in this state.

However, when a potty-trained dog starts soiling the house, you should be concerned. The first step you ought to take is speaking to your vet about it.

Take your dog to the vet for a check-up. You need to be sure that he does not have underlying illnesses causing him to soil the house.

At the same time, if you have an older dog, it could be that dementia is knocking. Hence, I emphasize that you speak to your vet.

They will be able to examine and treat your dog.

If house soiling is as a result of stress or anxiety, your vet will recommend the measures you should take to curb this behavior. Eliminate any element causing fear to your dog.


Excessive Barking

Vocalization is the first medium of communication for dogs, and most pets. However, when your dog, who rarely barks, starts making a lot of noise, it should raise a brow.

In most cases, a dog will bark because he wants to alert you about something.

Boredom is also known to cause excessive barking and so does anxiety. Well, I suggest you brace yourself and figure out what is wrong with your dog.

Well, it could be that your dog is bored, under-exercised, or generally sad.

Understand the element causing your dog to stress or be anxious. By eliminating stress or anxiety stimulants, you will sort out the excessive barking problem.

Do not forget that excessive vocalization can be as a result of physical pain.


Avoiding Eye Contact

This is a variant factor as it depends on what each factor means. For instance, if a dog regards eye contact as friendly, it should worry you when he starts avoiding it.

It is similar to hiding from you.

However, eye contact could interpret different things to your dog. Thus, it cannot be the sole indicator that your dog is unhappy.

You would need to observe his behavior and body language to determine if your dog is unhappy.



As I have outlined above, there are so many things to watch out for when trying to determine whether a dog is happy or not.

The above signs should guide you in determining your dog’s wellbeing. At the same time, I urge you to speak to your vet.

They will help you rule out medical causes disguised as signs of an unhappy dog.

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